Iowa City Animal Center launches volunteer response team

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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) – When a disaster happens, pets can often be left behind. Iowa City Animal Center staff saw that first hand during the flood of 2008. They took in hundreds of animals.

“I think we realized at that time that we need to have people already trained and ready to respond when the need is there,” Iowa City Animal Center Supervisor Liz Ford said.

The center wants to be prepared for the next big one. Its new Animal Response Team will deploy if called, otherwise it will spend time educating the public how to be ready. It’s the first of its kind in Johnson County.

“Are you ready at home with your pets if a tornado hits your house? Are you ready to go out and help others if a flood hits,” Ford said. “There’s a lot of information out there on how to respond to a disaster for people, but guess what a lot of people own pets. We want them to feel safe too.”

Thomas Bragg has volunteered with the center for two years. He recently joined the response team and knows there’s a need for it.

“As much as you like to think you’re ready for it, until it actually happens is when it becomes real. That’s when we really find out how well we’ve prepared. We find out where the gaps are too for the future, based on where those gaps are,” Bragg said.

Becoming a member requires training. There’s some on site, hands on, an even fema course requirements.

Animal Center Program Director Lisa Bragg said when everyone is trained it will make a big difference.

“80 runs right through our towns. There’s always the chance for semis to overturn or to wreck and spill out livestock. Iowa is a huge livestock industry state. So, it’s going to be really good to have those volunteers trained on how to handle those animals,” she said.

Iowa City Animal Services and Johnson County Emergency Management have teamed up to hold an all-day disaster preparedness workshop on April 8. The center invites anyone interested in the team to attend. For more information contact facfvolunteer@gmail.com or 319-356-5295, extension 7.